Magadan is a remote unreconstructed former Soviet city in East Russia. If you have an adventurous streak and you are looking for a place to visit that is way off the beaten track, try Magadan! There is more to Magadan than the gulag legacy and the gold mining industry.Things you should know about being an Extreme Tourist in Magadan (GMT + 12). 1. Is it tough to be a tourist is Magadan?You have to work hard to be a tourist in Magadan and, if you are staying for a week, be prepared to be permanently jet-lagged. If you look beyond the normal tourist sites, you will have the Busman holiday of a lifetime. Newton demonstrated that for every action, there is a reaction and Magadan is no exception to this rule. Being a tourist requires effort but the rewards are immense! Below is a photo of me teaching English in Magadan School No: 14. 2. How do you travel around Magadan?There are very few roads out of Magadan and they don't go very far. Most transport into and out of Magadan is by regional Russian airlines. Can I recommend a travel agent offering cheap flights to Magadan? No! There are no trains. You are, in effect, on a large island surrounded most of the year by ice. Can you drive in Magadan? Theorectically, yes on an International drivers licence. However, the roads are dreadful and cars cannot be hired so I definitely suggest walking.
The airport in Sokol is around 50 Km from Magadan via the Kolyma Highway. Meandering along the M56 Kolyma Highway is ' The Road of Bones' which is no longer in use and is not maintained. In the 1930s, prisoners from the Stalinist Gulags built the road. Many prisoners perished during the long cold winters. The frozen bodies were entombed in situ on what became known as the Road of Bones from Magadan to Yakutsk. (2,000 km).
3. Is Magadan a safe city?The Magadan people are very friendly. Magadan was regarded historically as a closed 'Red 'town. As everyone knows someone who works in the Police, it is a very safe city. 4. Do many locals speak English?
Many locals learn't their English at school and haven't needed to speak English for a very long time. If you visit Magadan, know how to say...Do you speak English? in Russian (Vy govorite po- angliyski?). They want to improve their spoken English so you will make friends instantly. If your command of Russian is primitive at best, download an English-Russian translator app on your mobile. 5. What essential stuff do I need to bring that cannot be bought in Magadan?Everything. Remember that everything you eat, except the local fish, has to be man-handled over long distances. This has nothing to do with rampant globalization. Nothing grows in Magadan as it has permafrost all year round. Be prepared to pay 40-50% more than in London. The same applies to groceries in supermarkets. You can get everything you need but it comes at a price! Magadan also caters for vegetarian food. Tomatoes and potatoes can be bought at Megamart (the local supermarket).6. Can you recommend any restaurants?Good restaurants to visit are Green Krokodil, Steakhouse and Beer Loga. I even recommend getting to the ski station 'Snegorka' and having a kebab picnic. It's a 15 min drive from the town centre and I guarantee you that not many foreigners have schussed down Snegorka! 7. Can you swim in the sea?Yes, except when its frozen (most of the year).8. Can you organize excursions to neighbouring towns and cities?What, pray, neighbouring towns and cities are you referring to? The nearest city, Yakutsk is 2,000 kms away.9. Russian Roaming?Don't buy a Russian Sim card in Moscow en route to Magadan. Russia Telecom has discovered that it can make more money if it promotes a price roaming strategy nationally and the costs are quite high when you do roam. Buy a Russian Sim card in Magadan and save yourself a small fortune. All internet is guided by satellite so don't expect lightning broadband.10. How do I change money in Magadan?In Russia, foreign exchange can be entertaining at best and challenging most of the time. Russian banks only accept Euros and Dollars. No one speaks English in the banks and your English pounds are worthless! Go straight to the cashier and avoid the bureaucratic ticketing system employed in Russian banks. Better still, there are plenty of easy-to-operate ATMs in Magadan. 11. When is the best time to visit Magadan?All things considered, Magadan is an "all year round" mining destination and definitely a punt as a holiday destination too. Winters are cold and summers are less cold. Magadan is not known as the shiniest city for nothing! Infact, you will probably be the only English tourist in town and you have an 80-100% chance of being the only foreign tourist in town. Drop into the only two decent hotels in the city, Hotel BM-Centr and Golden House Hotel and try to find the other tourist. Spotting the tourist would be simple if there were any. Believe it or not, I found a souvenir shop in Magadan. Evidence of Russian entrepreneurship gone mad! 12. How do I get a Russian visa to visit Magadan?With extreme difficulty so use an agency!13. Are there any other interesting and non-partisan websites in English about Magadan?In truth, No! That is afterall why you are here. Use Google Chrome with its built-in translator for Russian websites! The following websites help to fill in the gaps.
Snegorka Ski Station
Hotel BM-Centr in downtown Magadan
Golden House Hotel on the outskirts of Magadan
Magadan School No 14
Megamart -The Harrods of Magadan